How To Photograph Real Estate and Vacation Rentals

The Lens One Photographer Believes Everyone Should Own

The holy trinity of lenses — usually 16-35mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm — has been a staple for decades, but it is beginning to be tested. This lens is a convention breaker and Nigel Danson believes every photographer should own one.

I altered Danson's title a little as we all know — including Danson — no lens is needed by every photographer, but his title will get more clicks! However, there are a number of lenses that find their way into most camera bags. My staple lenses are bit unusual — long prime, macro, and wider prime — but I have never had a true "walkaround" lens.

A walkaround lens tends to be something with a lot of range in focal length and has wide application. In this video, Nigel Danson talks of the merits of the new Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-120mm f/4 S, which appears to have overcome one of the big drawbacks of these sorts of versatile lenses: image quality. Many of these zoom lenses with a huge range of focal lengths under their belt suffer from lower image quality (compared to more specialized lenses) and a more narrow widest aperture. Although f/4 is nothing to write home about, for landscape, street, and various other applications, it's wide enough, and without the image quality drawback, it's a force to be reckoned with.

Have you tried the new Nikon 24-120mm? What were your thoughts?

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Sebastian Lehner's picture

I've owned a Leica SL 24-90 Vario Elmarit for a while and also have to say: best decision. A jack of all trades. Sharp, great rendering and reliable. Not a low-light or bokehmonster, but that's not what it is for.

winzehnt gates's picture

I agree that this is a very usable zoom range.
I own Fuji XF16-80F4 WR. It has the same range of FOV. It's nice for hiking especially because of the weather resistance. It's also about 3cm shorter and about 200g lighter than the Nikon.
Yes I know, the Nikon is FF and the Fuji is APS-C but unless it gets really dark, it hardly matters (at least to me). If it gets dark, I'd rather use a bright prime anyway.

Gary Pardy's picture

F4 for landscape photography is plenty bright. Maybe too bright! Stop it down, put it on a tripod. It's a no brainer landscape lens. I look forward to getting one for my X-T4 eventually :)

winzehnt gates's picture

I wanted a lightweight weather resistant hiking kit with reasonable good quality. I use the XF16-80 with a X-T1 (bought refurbished/as good as new about a year ago for a bargain price), because it's the lightest Fuji camera with WR.

PS: I also own a X-T30 and a X70.
PPS: X-T30 with 50mmF2 plus the X70 is perfect for taking great candid images at family events without being recognized as being "the guy with the big camera". :-)

Gary Pardy's picture

That's a great hiking combo. A buddy of mine is still rocking his X-T1 since launch - they're basically indestructible. And yes, my 56mm f/1.2 definitely brands me as "the guy with the big camera" ahah. I'd love the 50 f2, but can't justify having two lenses at nearly the same focal length. This is problematic when I want a 23mm f/1.4, but have the X100V...

winzehnt gates's picture

I also try not to own two pieces of gear for the same use-case. This approach helps me to keep my GAS in check.
I've sold my X100T more than two years ago and I'm torn between the 23mmF1.4mk1 (I'd love to have the clutch mechanism), the 23mmF1.4mk2 (love that it's WR), the X100V and the still to be released X100mk6, which I hope will add IBIS.

charles hoffman's picture

5:1 is a pretty heavy ratio

But in the world of better sensors and image stabilizer, it can finally work with f4

Jim Tincher's picture

I always had wished this focal length in the F-Mount was f/2.8... wish the Z-Mount was too!

Tom Reichner's picture

It's hard to argue against a 24-120mm f4 that is sharp as a tack wide open, at all focal lengths. I wonder if it is bright and sharp in the deep corners, or if it has a bit of vignetting at 24mm wide open. Dark corners really bother me because lens correction software does NOT do a good job of removing the vignette.

Ryan Cooper's picture

I can see the argument for it being a really good landscape lens. "A lens every photographer should own" is much more of stretch. The $1000 this lens costs could be better spent in other ways for most photographers. It's super versatile but great at nothing.

Gary Pardy's picture

Agreed, it's definitely a landscape photographers lens, or a very lucky hiker/hobbyists lens :)

David Illig's picture

Ya gotta be pretty smug and self-righteous to tell “everyone” what lens(es) they should own without knowing what kind of work they do. Can any of his must-haves shoot macro from 1X to 5X?

W Mitty's picture

I think if you watch the video, you will note that Mr. Danson never claims that every photographer should have this lens. He explains why he finds it to be the best lens for HIS style of LANDSCAPE photography. I don't think he makes any claims as to the needs of macro photography, astrophotography, or any other genre of photography.

I enjoy Nigel Danson's videos because he has a very relaxed and humble style. I don't perceive any "smugness" or "self-righteousness" in his videos, at all. Only in those that don't watch his videos yet criticize him.

Mark Smith's picture

Yes, "if you watch the video" .. always good advice. :)

Douglas Liebig's picture

Yes, the video does not say "Everyone". The article's title on the hand... :D

W Mitty's picture

Agree. I think it is unfortunate that Mr. Baggs chose the title that he did. It certainly gives the wrong impression of the video content. In my opinion, the FStoppers titles should stay true to the intent of the original poster. I understand the need to grab the casual scanner's attention, but I think he missed the mark on this one.

Deleted Account's picture

The title makes exactly that claim - "the lens everyone should own". Quite a broad and false statement considering he does not know the needs of everyone:)

W Mitty's picture

The title to which you refer is from the FStoppers author, not Nigel Danson, the video creator. Nigel's title does not make that claim. If you read my original post, it is referring to Danson. Nigel has no control over the overlay title from FStoppers, so I think it is unfair to criticize him for it. When you state, "...considering he does not know the needs of everyone...", you are imputing the comment to the video creator.

I think it is a valid criticism that Mr. Baggs misrepresented the subject of Danson' video.

Deleted Account's picture

I agree with you. However, the first thing I see is the Fstoppers' title. I do not have time to do a research trying to find out who said what.

Leopold Bloom's picture

The original title is way better than the one here. I almost didn't click on it because it is so clickbaity, but I recognized that it must present a video from Nigel. I hate fstoppers for these clickbait titles, they often devalue the information to be found in the article.

Reid Thaler's picture

I don’t have this lens, but have shot with a Nikon 28-105mm f3.5-4.5 since it was on my film SLR. Sometimes I would like it to be a little wider, but most of the time its fine. If I need length, i can just crop a little. I tried the 24-120mm but returned it as it was too heavy and bulky. the 28-105mm was a kit lens for the Nikon F100. You can pick them up used for around $100 USD. The reviews universally say a lens this cheap shouldn’t work this work this well. It also does 0.5x macro in a pinch.

Tom Reichner's picture

My reply is a response to the comment that Leopold made, which is attached below in the form of a screenshot, because the "reply" and "copy & paste" features seem to have been disabled for his comment.


I, too, hate clickbait titles. But this title is not clickbaitish. It isn't making a blanket statement. It is simply telling us what one photographer believes, without saying that same thing itself.

I appreciate the way the title of this article was carefully written to ensure that it was not clickbaitish. I will be the first one to chastise Fstoppers for clickbaitish title wording, but when they are in the right I will be the first to stand up for them. And in this case they appear to be right.

Now I need to watch the entire video, just to make sure that the video maker really did say that he believes that every photographer should own this lens ..... because if he never actually said that, then I will have to recant what I wrote above.

Alex Cooke's picture

It's working fine for me.

Tom Reichner's picture

It now works for me, as well.

I am having the same problem with other comments in other articles here on Fstoppers. This forum software has always been a bit clunky and full of glitches, compared to any other websites that I visit. I think it was just a glitch.

Tom Reichner's picture

Okay .....

I watched the entire video, and at no point does Nigel Danson say that everyone should own this lens. In fact, he never says anything about how other photographers would benefit from this lens. All he speaks about are his own experiences with the lens and how useful he has found it for his work.

I also went to YouTube to watch the video there, and in the caption and comment area, Nigel never says that everybody should own this lens.

So, Robert K. Baggs, why you think that Nigel believes that every photographer should own this lens?

Leopold Bloom's picture

Exactly. And is this is why I called it clickbait.
You put in way better words than I could come up with.

Michael Engshun's picture

No. Why?
1. Nikon Z. No already we're talking niche users. So no.
2. f/4 ? In the mirrorless age? Really? So no.
3. Better aternatives exist. Tamron 28-200 2.8-5.6. f/4.5 at 118mm, sub f/4 under 53mm. And you get a handy 200mm gratis. Outstanding glass for the price and versatility. And a bit cheaper. Greg Davies says, "Bosch - done". So no.
4. "I altered Danson's title a little as we all know — including Danson — no lens is needed by every photographer, but his title will get more clicks!" So you know it's clcikbait and the proposition is irrelevant. Why promote it? Come'on man! Fstoppers.. be better than this.

Tom Reichner's picture

Purposefully writing things just to increase clicks is a hateful, despicable, and dishonest practice. Great shame upon you for cheating the readership out of the decency and honesty that we respect, and for misrepresenting the creator of the video.

James Kingsbury's picture

This article and comments makes my case again to put both the text and video in the post. This confusion then couldn't exist except for fools who only read the title. Having the text is faster then watching a video and allows you go back and more easily re-check details. Maybe videos get paid more? In the end however making the posts most useful for the most photographers will surely make the most money.